Sony Urban Music/Columbia
Vivian Green's debut album, "A Love Story," was a promising if not entirely successful entry from Philadelphia's neo-soul movement, an R&B project that added touches of jazz, hip-hop and confessional poetry in the style of Floetry and Green's former employer, Jill Scott. On her follow-up project, "Vivian," Green jettisons the artistic ambitions and makes a diva move, relying on her good looks and big voice to pursue the path of Mariah Carey and Beyonce Knowles. She may yet get her commercial reward -- her single "Gotta Go Gotta Leave (Tired)" is getting airplay -- but she has paid the price with a generic album that exposes the bankruptcy of the R&B diva formula.
"All lyrics and melodies by Vivian S. Green," read the album credits, and that's where the album suffers most. There's no denying the power of her voice nor the inventiveness of the rhythm tracks laid down by such Philly producers as Scott Storch, James Poyser and Anthony Bell. But the melodies take such small, safe steps that no amount of vocal embellishment can make them interesting, and the lyrics are full of talk-show cliches. On "Mad," she complains of her lover's "total disregard for me and my feelings." "I'm always here for you," she warbles on "Selfish," but adds, "I just wanna be free to live life to the fullest extent."
-- Geoffrey Himes
Appearing Saturday with Teena Marie at DAR Constitution Hall.